Blogs and Journalism

Weblogs, more commonly called blogs, became an important source of commentary, views and information in the early years of the 21st century. By 2010, statistics showed that nearly 3.5 million people read blogs every day. The majority of blogs focus on subjects of personal interest, but many professional journalists have their own blogs, in which to keep the public up to date with news, analyses and investigations. Many such sites are established by, or with the permission, of the journalist's employers, as a means to further promote the publication, but many journalists also establish their own, independent blogs, thus avoiding interference from editors or censorship.

Blogging's relationship with established, and Establishment, journalism was rapidly evolving, with the influence of other social networking tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, playing a role in how news and views are delivered to the readership in the blogosphere, and the manner in which these blogs were regarded. While every event presented through a subjective, personal perspective can be regarded as journalism, in the United States in 2011, only one in three bloggers considered their weblogs to be a form of journalism.

There are several categories of blogs. First, there is the group of personal, or citizen blogs, effectively amateur reporters. Such blogs may have a serious impact on the public. In the case of the terrorist bomb attacks in Madrid in 2004, citizen bloggers were the first to point out to professional media that the government was causing confusion with the information they were giving. Personal blogs can be a reliable source in certain cases, for example, if the owner and main contributor is a professional in a certain field, or when the blog is focused on events of local character, like a small town or neighborhood and the bloggers know each other and have first-hand experience on the matter. In such cases, the blogs become used as an important source.

Audience blogs are written by the public but belong to the media. Usually, they aim at getting feedback from the audience but may also be used as a source. Spanish free newspaper Qué has devoted two of its pages to readers' stories and reactions taken from their blog. There is even a section in which amateur reporters can post their materials in the hope of being noticed by professionals. Other newspapers like The Star Press in Indiana prefer to select their audience bloggers through a more controlled process, like contests or open proposals.

The next group, journalist blogs, are written by professional journalists outside the media. These are very attractive and convenient for journalists, since there are no restrictions in space, length of material, opinion or topic. They are given freedom to experiment and even to adopt biased positions, which they would not normally be allowed to do in the official media.

The last type of blogs, media blogs, are written by journalists within the media. Typically, the stylistic requirements are more lenient in blogs, compared to real newspapers, but in most cases there is still some editorial control. Journalists can post special events coverage, opinion columns or news commentary. Journalists often make use of the fact that in blogs there is no word limit that they need to take into consideration and can, therefore, write detailed and thorough coverages. Blogging's move towards acceptance and recognition as serious journalism reached a milestone in 2005 when Garrett Graff was the first blogger to gain a White House press pass. Soon after, he became editor at the weekly The Washingtonian.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Online Uprising. (Letter from Bloggerville)
Seipp, Catherine.
American Journalism Review, Vol. 24, No. 5, June 2002
The Expanding Blogosphere: Political Blogs-Online Journals Featuring Commentary, Often Highly Opinionated-Have Rapidly Become a Presence in the Campaign Landscape. Now Some Established News Organizations Are Hiring Established Bloggers or Creating Their Own. How Much Impact Does This Instant Punditry Have on Mainstream Political Reporting?
Smolkin, Rachel.
American Journalism Review, Vol. 26, No. 3, June-July 2004
Online Journalism as Market-Driven Journalism
Cohen, Elisia L.
Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Vol. 46, No. 4, December 2002
The Blogs of War: How the Internet Is Reshaping Foreign Policy
Reynolds, Glenn Harlan.
The National Interest, No. 75, Spring 2004
Bloggin' in the Newsroom
Heyboer, Kelly.
American Journalism Review, Vol. 25, No. 8, December 2003
Journalistic Blogging: Mainstream News Organizations Could Steal an Idea or Two from Blogs. (the Online Frontier)
Palser, Barb.
American Journalism Review, Vol. 24, No. 6, July-August 2002
Free to Blog? Three Journalists Are Told by Their Employers to Cease Their Web Musings. (the Online Frontier)
Palser, Barb.
American Journalism Review, Vol. 25, No. 5, June-July 2003
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